About the Project
In March 2012, 18 student journalists from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University traveled to Puerto Rico to report on immigration and the U.S. territory's November plebiscite to determine if the island will move toward independence, statehood or stay as is.
The students, all members of a depth reporting class, spent eight days reporting by land, air and boat throughout this Caribbean island. They conducted dozens of interviews, shot more than 30 hours of video footage and took thousands of photographs.
The student journalists were Maryann Batlle, Cailyn Bradley, Gardenia Coleman, Jerilyn Forsythe, Joe Henke, Alexis Ariana Hermosillo, Fara Illich, Donyelle Kesler, Natasha Khan, Kailey Latham, McKenzie Manning, Khara Persad, Weston Phippen, Sarah Pringle, Brandon Quester, Molly Smith, Danielle Verbrigghe, and AJ Vicens.
The students worked under the direction of Cronkite faculty members Rick Rodriguez and Jason Manning. Rodriguez, former executive editor of the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, is the Carnegie Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School, where he teaches a seminar on Latino issues and a depth reporting class. Manning, former political editor for washingtonpost.com, is the director of student media at ASU and teaches a freshman seminar as well as assisting with the depth reporting class. The two have guided students in previous in-depth reporting projects on immigration and border issues in the U.S. and Mexico.
Cronkite Associate Dean Kristin Gilger, Jason Manning and Brandon Quester copy edited the project. Cronkite technologist Nic Lindh built the website interface, and Jason Manning and Brandon Quester served as webmasters.
“Puerto Rico: Unsettled Territory” was made possible by a grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Illinois-based nonprofit organization founded by the international photojournalist, author and philanthropist.
Batlle attended Florida Gulf Coast University and was a freelance reporter for the Naples Daily News in Southwest Florida before moving to Phoenix to pursue a master's degree in journalism. She was a fellow for News21 in the summer of 2012, where she focused on stories about voting rights for felons. Batlle is interested in all forms of storytelling — from print to social media — but still hopes to someday write a book.
A Maryland native, Bradley ventured to the Cronkite School to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. While at Cronkite she was a sports reporter and producer for Cronkite NewsWatch. She also co-produced three student documentaries including, "Puerto Rico: An Unsettled Dominican Dream." Bradley spent the summer in London covering the 2012 Olympics for Cronkite News. She received her bachelor's degree in August 2012 and will start her career as a producer for KGUN-TV in Tucson.
Coleman is a multimedia journalist at the Cronkite School. She directed and co-produced a group documentary titled, The Keepers, which aired on AZPBS. Coleman was awarded the Rob Sunde Fellowship Award and will intern at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., May 2012. Stories that give voice to the marginalized, increase community awareness and identify solutions for change are issues she likes to cover. Coleman was a Barrett Honors student and graduated in May 2012 with a dual bachelor's/master's degree in journalism.
Forsythe is interested in reporting on social and political issues through different mediums such as written, audio, video and visual journalism. She plans to graduate in the fall of 2012 and hopes to continue to work on stories with impact as a multimedia journalist in a big city.
A graduate of the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minn.), Henke is a masters candidate at the Cronkite School. He has experience in television, radio, print and online. His reporting interests range from technology to sports to social issues. He has interned at the Minneapolis/St. Paul NBC affiliate KARE 11 News. After Cronkite, Henke hopes to become a multimedia reporter for a newspaper or magazine.
Alexis Ariana Hermosillo
Hermosillo is an Arizona native. She received her bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary arts and performance with a Spanish minor from ASU. From a young age, Alexis found the media business captivating, which fueled her to pursue a master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In recent years, she has worked for Radio Campesina Network, where she got a taste of the media business in the world of radio. In the future, Alexis would like to become a television host or a news anchor in the Hispanic market.
Fara Illich is originally from Sedona, Ariz. and studied film analysis and criticism at the University of Arizona. She has worked in the television news industry as a photographer, studio camera operator and editor, and is currently learning news writing and multimedia as a graduate student. After graduation, she plans to stay in her home state and cover border issues and other topics affecting the Southwest.
Kesler received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from New Mexico State University and is now masters candidate at the Cronkite School. During her undergraduate career she worked as an intern at a daily newspaper and as a communications specialist for NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, where her work was published in newspapers and online publications around the state of New Mexico.
Khan is a Midwesterner at heart but is currently thriving in the Southwest learning to report on border issues at the Cronkite School. Inspired by a humanitarian trip to South Africa which extended into nearly two years of traveling the country on the back of a motorcycle, she decided that her love for learning new cultures, her unyielding sense of adventure and passion for writing would best be utilized in a career in journalism.
Latham is a current masters candidate at the Cronkite School where she is focusing her studies on broadcast journalism and borderlands issues. She received her bachelor of arts degree in public affairs journalism with minors in political science and women’s studies from The Ohio State University. Her life-long dream is to give a voice to marginalized communities, specifically women.
Manning is pursuing a dual bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism at the Cronkite School. She has produced and directed the live student newscast Cronkite NewsWatch and this Spring, will be reporting for NewsWatch twice a week. She has interned at the NBC local affiliate for Arizona Midday as well as at NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams in New York City.
Persad is a graduate student at the Cronkite School. She is from Trinidad and Tobago and graduated from the University of the West Indies in 2007 with a degree in communication studies. She has worked in video production for four years and will report for the Cronkite News Service in Washington, D.C., this fall. Persad was a summer fellow with News21, focusing on voting rights in Arizona and voter identification laws.
Phippen is an undergraduate student at the Cronkite School. He was born in California, raised in Salt Lake City, and is debating an exit strategy for Arizona. He likes to write about strange people and things; he thinks the emotional relevancy of news is more important than politics or how many bodies there were in the pile up –– he is starting to realize there is not a lot of money in this type of writing. He used to have a lot of hobbies. Now he mostly reads books and listens to the Blues.
After graduating from the University of Arizona in Spring 2011 with a degree in business economics and a minor in Spanish, Pringle decided to combine her love for business, international issues and writing. As a current masters candidate and graduate assistant at the Cronkite School, she looks forward to an exciting career in journalism with the opportunity to make a difference.
Quester is a photojournalist and reporter who recently completed a master's degree at the Cronkite School. Previously, Quester spent five years working for various newspapers and journalism projects. He has focused on issues such as children living along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. soldiers serving in Kuwait and Iraq and street children living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Quester is the co-founder and associate director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.
Smith is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the Cronkite School, with a focus in writing and photography. She has been a breaking news intern for The Arizona Republic and a photographer for The State Press, The Phoenix New Times and The Cronkite Journal. She is currently the photography and editorial intern for Arizona Highways Magazine.
Verbrigghe is from Portland and has a B.A. in English literature. She is interested in print and multimedia storytelling and plans to complete her master's degree in Mass Communication in 2012.
After graduating from college in Denver, Colo. in 2006, Vicens worked in newspapers, magazines, television and radio covering everything from police to business to sports. He came to the Cronkite School to pursue a master’s degree with an eye toward producing multimedia journalism for major magazines or newspapers.
Web and Multimedia Support
Brandon Quester (bio and photo above) edited stories, created pages and slideshows for this project.
Rodriguez is the Cronkite School’s Carnegie Professor of Journalism. The former executive editor of The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, Rodriguez was the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors. He came to the Cronkite School in 2008 to develop a new cross-disciplinary specialization in the coverage of issues related to Latinos and the U.S.-Mexico border. Rodriguez is known nationally as a champion of watchdog journalism and newsroom diversity.
Manning is director of student media at ASU, serving as adviser and publisher to the university's student-run news outlets. He teaches at the Cronkite School and serves as the managing editor for ASU's News21 project — part of a 12-university consortium that provides professional-level journalism experience for students. He previously was politics editor for washingtonpost.com, where he led the website’s coverage of the federal government and national campaign politics.
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